The release of the report of the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group cannot be used to mask the fact the Government is making it harder to attract the best candidates to university teaching courses.

The report and Government recommendations contain some practical and welcome proposals, such as tougher enforcement of teaching standards and improved practical classroom training.

But what has been announced today is nothing more than the continuation of good work set in train by the former Labor Government – and something Liberal and Labor states have been working toward in recent years.

Shadow Education Minister Kate Ellis said that the problem isn’t what the Government has announced today – it is their $100,000 degrees and their $20 million cut to the body responsible for teacher standards and teacher training.

“On the one hand this review has backed the current national teacher training standards, but on the other, the Abbott Government cut $20 million from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) in the last budget – making it incredibly hard for it to do its important job.

“This report reinforces that this is a Government of saying one thing and doing another.

“As with anything this government tries to do in schools, the bottom line is that nothing can reverse the damage of their broken promise on the Gonski reforms and $30 billion in cuts.”

Shadow Higher Education Minister Kim Carr said that improving the quality of teaching graduates would require substantial investment in the teaching profession.

“If Education Minister Christopher Pyne was serious about the overhaul of teacher education he announced today, he wouldn’t be cutting funding and trying to impose crippling debts on students," Senator Carr said.

“Nor would he be talking about re-accrediting institutions offering teaching degrees while cutting the funds of the accreditation agency, TEQSA, by 40 per cent.

“But universities themselves also need to take responsibility for raising standards, ensuring student success and responding effectively to the labour market needs. Too many teaching graduates today cannot find employment.”

Shadow Assistant Minister for Education and Higher Education Amanda Rishworth said that Christopher Pyne had really built this review up, and people were expecting an awful lot more.

“It’s a simple question - how can the Government expect to attract the best and brightest to the teaching profession when the cost of a teaching degree will sky rocket under the Government’s deregulation agenda.

“If this Government are serious about boosting teaching standards they will walk away from the changes which will push university out of the reach of many young Australians.”




13 FEBRUARY 2015